Case: Whitfield v. Thurston

4:20-cv-00466 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas

Filed Date: April 29, 2020

Closed Date: July 2, 2021

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: This case, initially being tracked by the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project, was filed by two independent candidates for public office, seeking various changes to Arkansas’ ballot access provisions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 24, 2020, the district court denied the plaintiffs’ requested relief and entered a judgment in favor of the defendant, the Secretary of State of Arkansas. One plaintiff appealed the decision, but the Eighth Circuit dismissed the appeal…

COVID-19 Summary: This case, initially being tracked by the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project, was filed by two independent candidates for public office, seeking various changes to Arkansas’ ballot access provisions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 24, 2020, the district court denied the plaintiffs’ requested relief and entered a judgment in favor of the defendant, the Secretary of State of Arkansas. One plaintiff appealed the decision, but the Eighth Circuit dismissed the appeal as moot on July 2, 2021.


This is a case about two independent candidates for public office in Arkansas seeking access to the Arkansas ballot in the 2020 general election. On April 29, 2020, the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the Eastern District of Arkansas. They sued the Secretary of State of Arkansas, alleging that Arkansas’ ballot access provisions were overly restrictive, particularly given the COVID-19 pandemic, and violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. These provisions set May 1, 2020 as the ballot petition deadline for Independent candidates seeking to run in the November general election and implemented a 90-day petition period. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit Arkansas from prohibiting the enforcement of these provisions, both for the 2020 general election and for all subsequent general elections. The case was assigned to Judge Kristine Gerhard Baker.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on April 30, 2020 and the defendants filed an answer on May 14. On June 24, 2020, the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion and entered a judgment in favor of the defendant. The court found that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a severe enough burden relative to the state’s regulatory interest in managing elections. This reasoning also disposed of the Equal Protection claim. 468 F. Supp. 3d 1064.

One of the plaintiffs appealed this district court's ruling to the Eighth Circuit on June 26, 2020 and the November 2020 election took place while the appeal was pending. Reasoning that the plaintiff's candidacy had ended and that the case was therefore no longer "live," the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot on July 2, 2021. The plaintiff argued that the case fell within the capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review exception to mootness, but the court disagreed, finding that the plaintiff had not demonstrated a reasonable expectation that he would be subjected to the challenged laws again. 3 F.4th 1045.

Summary Authors

Sarah Bender (3/26/2021)

Rachel Harrington (9/6/2021)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17114236/parties/whitfield-v-thurston/


Judge(s)

Baker, Kristine Gerhard (Arkansas)

Benton, William Duane (Missouri)

Grasz, Leonard Steven (Nebraska)

Gruender, Raymond W. (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Hyman, William Whitfield (Arkansas)

Linger, James C. (Oklahoma)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bronni, Nicholas Jacob (Arkansas)

Jacobs, Dylan L (Arkansas)

Mosley, Michael Allen (Arkansas)

Wagner, Vincent Moore (Arkansas)

Judge(s)

Baker, Kristine Gerhard (Arkansas)

Benton, William Duane (Missouri)

Grasz, Leonard Steven (Nebraska)

Gruender, Raymond W. (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Hyman, William Whitfield (Arkansas)

Linger, James C. (Oklahoma)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bronni, Nicholas Jacob (Arkansas)

Jacobs, Dylan L (Arkansas)

Mosley, Michael Allen (Arkansas)

Wagner, Vincent Moore (Arkansas)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

4:20-cv-00466

Docket [PACER]

July 2, 2020

July 2, 2020

Docket
1

4:20-cv-00466

Complaint

April 29, 2020

April 29, 2020

Complaint
28

4:20-cv-00466

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

468 F.Supp.3d 1064, 2020 WL 3451692

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

Order/Opinion

0:20-02309

Opinion of the Court

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

3 F.4th 1045

July 2, 2021

July 2, 2021

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17114236/whitfield-v-thurston/

Last updated July 23, 2022, 3:05 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against John Thurston filed by Dan Whitfield, Gary Fults. Summons issued and returned to counsel. (Fee of $400 paid, Receipt #LIT077030.) (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet) (ljb) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

April 29, 2020

April 29, 2020

RECAP
2

MOTION for Leave to Appear pro hac vice by James C. Linger filed by Gary Fults, Dan Whitfield. Fee of $100 paid, Receipt #LIT077029. (ljb) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

April 29, 2020

April 29, 2020

PACER
3

ORDER granting 2 motion for attorney James C. Linger to appear pro hac vice. Mr. Linger shall appear as counsel for plaintiffs in this matter. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 4/30/2020. (jbh) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020

PACER
4

NOTICE of Appearance by Nicholas Jacob Bronni on behalf of John Thurston (Bronni, Nicholas) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020

PACER
5

NOTICE of Appearance by Dylan L. Jacobs on behalf of John Thurston (Jacobs, Dylan) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020

PACER
6

NOTICE of Appearance by Vincent Moore Wagner on behalf of John Thurston (Wagner, Vincent) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020

PACER
7

WAIVER OF SERVICE Returned Executed as to John Thurston by Dan Whitfield, Gary Fults. (Hyman, William) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020

PACER
8

MOTION for Preliminary Injunction by All Plaintiffs (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Declaration of Dan Whitfield, # 2 Exhibit Declaration of Gary Fults)(Linger, James) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020

PACER
9

BRIEF IN SUPPORT re 1 Complaint, 8 Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by All Plaintiffs. (Linger, James) (Entered: 04/30/2020)

April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020

RECAP
10

ORDER directing the parties to confer regarding a proposed briefing and hearing schedule before noon, 12:00 p.m., 5/5/2020; directing counsel for the parties to advise the Court of any agreement reached by 2:00 p.m., 5/5/2020; and directing counsel for the parties to provide to the Court each party's position with respect to a request for hearing to address matters raised in the pending motion for preliminary injunction, if the parties are unable to reach agreement, to advise the Court whether the party wishes to present evidence at such a hearing or only argument, if the party seeks a hearing, and to propose a briefing schedule to address matters raised in the pending motion for preliminary injunction. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 5/1/2020. (jbh) (Entered: 05/01/2020)

May 1, 2020

May 1, 2020

PACER
11

STIPULATION Joint Stipulations of Fact by John Thurston. (Wagner, Vincent) (Entered: 05/11/2020)

May 11, 2020

May 11, 2020

PACER
12

RESPONSE in Opposition re 8 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by John Thurston. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 - Declaration of Peyton Murphy, # 2 Exhibit 2 - Declaration of Meghan Cox)(Bronni, Nicholas) (Entered: 05/14/2020)

1 Exhibit 1 - Declaration of Peyton Murphy

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2 Exhibit 2 - Declaration of Meghan Cox

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May 14, 2020

May 14, 2020

PACER
13

ANSWER to 1 Complaint by John Thurston.(Bronni, Nicholas) (Entered: 05/14/2020)

May 14, 2020

May 14, 2020

PACER
14

ORDER setting the following schedule for consideration of 8 plaintiffs' pending motion for preliminary injunction: joint stipulations of fact will be submitted to the Court on 5/8/2020, and filed of record thereafter; defendant will answer or otherwise respond to plaintiffs' complaint on or before 5/14/2020; defendant will respond to plaintiffs' pending motion for preliminary injunction on or before 5/14/2020; plaintiffs may file a reply brief in support of their motion for preliminary injunction on or before 5/18/2020; and setting a hearing on plaintiffs' pending motion for preliminary injunction, which will be consolidated with a trial on the merits, on Wednesday, 5/27/2020, beginning at 9:00 a.m. in Little Rock Courtroom 4C. If any party objects to the Court's consideration of exhibits already in the record in this matter, such objections must be made in writing and filed by 5:00 p.m. CT on Thursday, 5/21/2020, and any responses to such objections must be made in writing and filed by 5:00 p.m. CT on Friday, 5/22/2020. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 5/15/2020. (jbh) (Entered: 05/15/2020)

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

PACER
15

REPLY to Response to Motion re 8 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by All Plaintiffs. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Ex 3 Decl. of Richard Winger, # 2 Exhibit Ex 4 CV Richard Winger, # 3 Exhibit Ex 5 2020 Ballot Access Chart, # 4 Exhibit Ex 6 Amended Order, 4/30/18, Moore v. Martin, Case No. 4:14-cv-00065, # 5 Exhibit Ex 7 Letter of 7/29/2019, Thurston to Pakko, # 6 Exhibit Ex 8 Letter Dec 10, 2019, Thurston to Pakko, # 7 Exhibit Ex 9 Supp Decl Dan Whitfield, # 8 Exhibit Ex 10 Supp Decl Gary Fults, # 9 Exhibit Ex 11 Ballotpedia for Meghan Cox, # 10 Exhibit Ex 12 Administrative Order Five 4/17/20 E.D. Ark.)(Linger, James) (Entered: 05/18/2020)

1 Exhibit Ex 3 Decl. of Richard Winger

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2 Exhibit Ex 4 CV Richard Winger

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3 Exhibit Ex 5 2020 Ballot Access Chart

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4 Exhibit Ex 6 Amended Order, 4/30/18, Moore v. Martin, Case No. 4:14-cv-00065

View on PACER

5 Exhibit Ex 7 Letter of 7/29/2019, Thurston to Pakko

View on PACER

6 Exhibit Ex 8 Letter Dec 10, 2019, Thurston to Pakko

View on PACER

7 Exhibit Ex 9 Supp Decl Dan Whitfield

View on RECAP

8 Exhibit Ex 10 Supp Decl Gary Fults

View on RECAP

9 Exhibit Ex 11 Ballotpedia for Meghan Cox

View on PACER

10 Exhibit Ex 12 Administrative Order Five 4/17/20 E.D. Ark.

View on PACER

May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020

PACER
16

NOTICE of Appearance by Michael Allen Mosley on behalf of John Thurston (Mosley, Michael) (Entered: 05/19/2020)

May 19, 2020

May 19, 2020

PACER
17

Exhibit List and Witness List by Gary Fults, Dan Whitfield.(Linger, James) (Entered: 05/20/2020)

May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

RECAP
18

Exhibit List and Witness List by John Thurston.(Bronni, Nicholas) (Entered: 05/20/2020)

May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

RECAP
19

STIPULATION Joint Stipulation regarding Witnesses & Exhibits by John Thurston. (Bronni, Nicholas) (Entered: 05/21/2020)

May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020

PACER
20

MINUTES for proceedings held before Judge Kristine G. Baker: MOTION HEARING held on 5/27/2020 re 8 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Dan Whitfield and Gary Fults. Court convened via telephone; After witness testimony and arguments from counsel, the Court took the matter under advisement. The Court will issue a written ruling. (Present for plaintiffs: James Linger and William Hyman; Present for defendant: Nicholas Bronni, Michael Mosley, Vincent Wagner and Dylan Jacobs) (Court Reporter Elaine Hinson) (tmw) (Entered: 05/27/2020)

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

PACER
21

Exhibit and Witness List by Gary Fults and Dan Whitfield.(tmw) (Entered: 05/27/2020)

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

PACER
22

Exhibit and Witness List by John Thurston.(tmw) (Entered: 05/27/2020)

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

PACER
23

NOTICE by John Thurston re 12 Response in Opposition to Motion Notice of Supplemental Authority (Attachments: # 1 Document Attachment 1, # 2 Document Attachment 2)(Bronni, Nicholas) (Entered: 06/02/2020)

June 2, 2020

June 2, 2020

PACER
24

REPLY re 23 Notice (Other) Plaintiffs' Response Brief to Defendant's Notice of Supplemental Authority by Gary Fults, Dan Whitfield. (Linger, James) (Entered: 06/03/2020)

June 3, 2020

June 3, 2020

PACER
25

TRANSCRIPT of Hearing on Motion for Preliminary Injunction/Trial held on 5/27/2020, before Judge Kristine G. Baker. Court Reporter Elaine Hinson. Transcript may be viewed only at the public terminals in the Clerk's office. Copies of transcript are only available through the Official Court Reporter before the deadline for Release of Transcript Restriction. After that date it may be obtained through PACER. DEADLINES: Notice of Intent to Request Redaction due 6/11/2020. Redaction Request due 6/25/2020. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 7/6/2020. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 9/2/2020. (fcd) (Entered: 06/04/2020)

June 4, 2020

June 4, 2020

PACER
26

NOTICE by John Thurston re 12 Response in Opposition to Motion Notice of Supplemental Authority (Jacobs, Dylan) (Entered: 06/05/2020)

June 5, 2020

June 5, 2020

PACER
27

RESPONSE re 26 Notice (Other) by Gary Fults, Dan Whitfield (Linger, James) (Entered: 06/08/2020)

June 8, 2020

June 8, 2020

PACER
28

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW denying plaintiffs Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Fults's 8 motion for preliminary injunction and request for injunctive relief. The Court enters judgment in favor of defendant Secretary Thurston and denies the relief requested. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 6/24/2020. (jbh) (Entered: 06/24/2020)

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

RECAP
29

JUDGMENT: Pursuant to the 28 Order entered this date, judgment is entered in favor of defendant John Thurston, in his official capacity as Secretary of State for the State of Arkansas, on the claims of plaintiffs Dan Whitfield and Gary Fults. Plaintiffs' claims are dismissed with prejudice; the relief requested is denied. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 6/24/2020. (jbh) (Entered: 06/24/2020)

June 24, 2020

June 24, 2020

RECAP
30

NOTICE OF APPEAL as to 29 Judgment, 28 Order, by Dan Whitfield. (Linger, James) (Entered: 06/26/2020)

June 26, 2020

June 26, 2020

PACER
31

USCA Appeal Fees received $505 receipt number LIT077831 re 30 Notice of Appeal filed by Dan Whitfield. (ajt) (Entered: 06/26/2020)

June 26, 2020

June 26, 2020

PACER
32

NOTIFICATION OF APPEAL and NOA SUPPLEMENT as to 30 Notice of Appeal re 28 Order and 29 Judgment. NOTIFICATION TO COUNSEL: REQUEST FOR TRANSCRIPTS SHOULD BE FILED WITH THE DISTRICT COURT CLERK. (ajt) (Entered: 06/26/2020)

June 26, 2020

June 26, 2020

PACER
33

USCA Docketing Letter and Briefing Schedule as to 30 Notice of Appeal filed by Dan Whitfield. USCA Case Number 20-2309. (ajt) (Entered: 06/29/2020)

June 29, 2020

June 29, 2020

PACER
34

TRANSCRIPT REQUEST by Dan Whitfield re 30 Notice of Appeal (Linger, James) (Entered: 07/02/2020)

July 2, 2020

July 2, 2020

PACER
35

OPINION of USCA as to 30 Notice of Appeal filed by Dan Whitfield. (jbh) (Entered: 07/02/2021)

July 2, 2021

July 2, 2021

PACER
36

USCA JUDGMENT as to 30 Notice of Appeal filed by Dan Whitfield: The appeal is dismissed as moot in accordance with the opinion of this Court. (jbh) (Entered: 07/02/2021)

July 2, 2021

July 2, 2021

PACER
37

MANDATE of USCA in accordance with the opinion and judgment of 07/02/2021 as to 30 Notice of Appeal filed by Dan Whitfield. (ajt) (Entered: 07/23/2021)

July 23, 2021

July 23, 2021

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: Arkansas

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Healthy Elections COVID litigation tracker

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 29, 2020

Closing Date: July 2, 2021

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Independent candidates for public office

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Secretary of State for the State of Arkansas, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Voting

Voting:

Candidate qualifications

Election administration